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The Mirror World of Melody Black

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,007 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Dark, witty and painful, Gavin Extence's follow up to the word-of-mouth hit, THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS, will stir up strong emotions as readers follow its heroine as she spirals into depression.

The perfect follow up to THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS, this is a sensitive and astonishingly witty account of a woman's descent into mental illness. The protagonist, Abby, is
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 12th 2015 by Hodder & Staughton (first published 2015)
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,007 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
I was excited to read The Mirror World of Melody Black, given that I found myself enjoying The Universe Versus Alex Woods more than I expected to. Reading the first 100 pages or so, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to continue. See, the main character is bipolar, and her swings of mania and depression are really well written. I could see what was coming and wasn’t sure if I wanted to be along for the ride.

The thing is, when the main character is in a psychiatric ward, she and another character t
Angela Oliver
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
After the release of "The Rosie Project", and with stories like "The woman who stole my life", "I was here" and "All the Bright Places", it is plain to see that realistic stories about people with differently wired personalities are becoming increasingly popular. This is excellant news, because as autism, depression, anxiety, OCD and other mental health conditions become more prevalent (or rather, recognised) in society, the world of fiction and other prose really helps with better understanding ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-with-sarah
This started off rather wonderfully, and I thought it was going to be brilliant.
CONTAINS SPOILERS! (but it really doesn't matter at all imo)

Unfortunately, after the first third, It all went a bit downhill. None of the interesting storylines or characters from the first third were ever fully explored , And the whole mirror world idea, which was very interesting, went absolutely nowhere.
I would have liked to know more about the monkeysphere too.

Melody Black, From the title, turned out to be a com
Tracy Fenton
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Firstly I have to explain that Alex Woods is one of my favourite books so I was so excited about reading the latest book by this author. This story describes the downward spiral of depression and mental illness in a very honest and deep way. The characters are all fascinating and I personally would love to read more about Miranda Frost (she deserves her own book). A thought provoking story and once you have finished it and read the authors notes it becomes even more poignant
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is most definitely a must buy must read. The Mirror World Of Melody Black is one the best fiction books that I have read about mental illness. Gavin Extence is truly a very gifted author and a big credit to hodder.

I hope that Gavin has the spirit to write another novel as I would in the front of the que to read it. What gave Gavin the idea to write about Abby who has a mental illness, manic episode as part of her disorder is that Gavin Extence went nuts in January 2009. He didn't want to k
Leilah Skelton
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I leapt into this novel blind, knowing, like Gavin’s wonderful debut ‘The Universe vs Alex Woods’ that it tackled weighty issues, but being unaware of what those issues were. I don’t want to talk too much about Abby, our narrator. I found the impact of her story more pronounced to discover her condition from the inside out, so to speak. And what is undoubtable is that Gavin’s not giving you a view of an issue here, but putting you behind the eyes of it.

On the back of my early copy it states onl
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, 2015
A beautiful book.

BookTube review:
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

Having read and loved The Universe Versus Alex Woods, I was excited to see that Gavin Extence had struck again.  Even the title seemed to mimic that earlier work - but having finally tracked down a copy, I felt surprised by a book that was both very different in tone but yet possessing the same sensitivity in its approach to a complex topic.  The book's central protagonist is Abby, someone who is not as easy to warm as Alex - she even e
Mar 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
A poor follow up to Extence's terrific first novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods. While both start with a dead body, there the similarities end. Extence's second book displays little of the charm, wit, and exuberance of his first, nor does it come close to creating a world and characters as captivating and complete as in that book, where the strength of the main character's voice was enough to pull me right into the story from the first page; the additional intrigue of his situation was just t ...more
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
I loved this. Much like a nervy pregnant woman, I didn't think I could find room in my heart to love another book by Gavin Extence as much as I loved the one I already had (The Universe vs Alex Wood), but I do. Melody Black is quite a different book, but at its core there are similarities. Both are about a quirky misfit and both are told with both heart and humour.

I knew very little about the story when I picked up this book. The description on the book's inside cover is extremely vague and the
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable, but it's no Alex Woods.

The Mirror World of Melody Black tells the story of journalist Abby who lives with her boyfriend Beck. It opens with Abby finding her neighbour, Simon, dead in his flat. She is shocked, but takes it on the chin, incorporating in into a successful piece she submits to The Guardian. Giddy on the success of her article, she gets grand ideas for future articles she will write, tracking down a Cambridge lecturer who declined to be interviewed. Abby feels unstoppable
Katy Noyes
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A different subject matter, a different style to Extence's debut. I enjoyed his first so much that I went for this without reading much about it, so it was knowing little that I encountered Abby and her world.

I didn't realise until she was in the middle of her mania exactly what kind of individual our protagonist is. Abby seems reasonable at first, very introspective and cool, sometimes impetuous and of the moment. Her crash (speaking psychologically) is sudden and hard, shocking as well.

Grace Harwood
Mar 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
After "The Universe Versus Alex Woods", this was a big disappointment. Like other readers, I loved Extence's first novel so much that I immediately downloaded this to Kindle the day it came out and started reading very soon after. It starts promisingly enough - another quirky character, Abby, goes into her neighbour's flat to borrow a tin of tomatoes and finds him dead in the chair. Initially, Abby seems engaging and funny - but then this book loses the plot faster than its main character does. ...more
Weronika Zimna
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-polish
An enjoyable book that handled the topic of a bipolar disorder pretty well. I have to admit I liked the author's other book a bit more tough. I kind of dislike the title of this one, too. Melody Black is a suprisingly little and meaningless part of this book, so don't expect to read a story about her. Also - the last 1/3 of the story is the weakest part in my opinion.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
I would like to give less than two stars really, as it started so promisingly but then most of the book was so dull and I actually totally didn;t get one of the major plot points. Really disappointed. Just because an author has experience of something does not mean that they can write a good book about it.
Bibliophilic Richard
The premise is like the conventional mental illness story but it did just what it aims to achieve - to inform and entertain the reader. I liked it for the reality of the scenarios and the characters. The twist and turns of the sequence was appreciated and left an overall satisfaction to me. My only problem with this novel is that it's just too conventional. There was nothing unique and amazing about the story, the characters, and the events. However, the writing style made an entertaining and ma ...more
Owen Townend
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gavin Extence is up there with the likes of Matt Haig in conveying serious mental health issues to a general audience with honesty and efficiency. He writes not just empathetically but as if it comes from personal experience which, in the case of this particular book, is just so.

That being said, I found the plot pace of The Mirror World of Melody Black inconsistent. I'm not sure if this was intentional but it bothered me. The first section of the book was great: I really enjoyed Abby the protago
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Let me first start by saying that if you suffer from or know someone who struggles with mental illness this will be a tough read. That being said, I absolutely LOVED this book. My first attempt at reading this was probably about 2-3 years ago but I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Tackling it again and I realized I really enjoy reading Gavin Extence. Abby discovers her neighbour's body when she goes to borrow a can of tomato sauce and this discovery is the beginning of a downward spiral in her ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"People talk about dark moods, black moods, all the time. But depression isn’t a dark mood. It’s an ash-grey mood, or possibly some type of beige."

This story starts when Abigail Williams, freelance journalist, instead of having a quiet dinner with her boyfriend, stumbles across her neighbour's body. This unexpected incident sets in motion an unstoppable chain of events that leads to Abby's meeting with Melody Black. In a psychiatric ward.

The Mirror World of Melody Black tells us a story of a you
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
3.5 stars

Alex Woods was an unexpected surprise, and because of that, I expected something similar. I appreciate how personal this book is and it gave an honest account of bipolar disorder. However, I never felt as engaged with the book or characters as I did with Alex Woods, and some events in the book didn't make ful sense.
Venom Wolf
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not as exciting as I was expecting.
Leonora Al
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
4/5 stars

I read Gavin Extence' debut The Universe Versus Alex Woods right after being translated to German. I love it, from the first page I was drawn into the incredible life of Alex Woods. The book was bizarre and full of unexpected turns, full of wit and peculiarities. I loved it!

Therefore I was really curious about the newest (translated in German) book by Gavin Extence and really happy when I finally had it in my hands. Unnecessary to stay I started reading immediately.

The centre of the st
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Ten Second Synopsis:
On finding the corpse of her neighbour costly tucked into his armchair Abby experiences little emotional response. Not to worry though, she's about to experience just about every emotion known to humanity in a short space of time.

I think I can safely declare, after having read both Extence’s offerings, that I am now a confirmed fan of his work. I really enjoyed the engaging first person viewpoint (Abby’s
Jul 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-a-lit, 2016-read
This was a solid read for me, meaning it was not bad with many issues, but also it did not blow my mind. It was good, and nothing is wrong with that. I wanted to read Extence's (Btw how do you pronounce that last name) first novel Alex vs the Universe, but I saw this novel on Bookoutlet on sale, so I say why not check out his writing and storytelling style. I found his writing was easy to get to, and his story telling style was very traditional in a sense it follow a clear and walked path.

Emma Smith
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, review-books
Originally written for

The story starts with Abby finding her neighbour, Simon, dead in his flat. She seems a little detached from the whole thing and the reader soon learns she regularly sees a therapist called Dr Barbara. Life seems to be going ok for Abby until one unfortunate day where it all falls apart. She's soon being treated for her disorder and dealing with the consequences of her actions.

Abby is the main character throughout, but the other characters
Sid Nuncius
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is another very good book from Gavin Extence. Like the rest of the world, I loved The Universe vs. Alex Woods and tried this on the strength of it. I wasn't disappointed.

What follows may be a bit of a spoiler - so be warned - but it is fairly well-publicised and it would be impossible to give an idea of the book without it, I think. The story is narrated by Abby, a young freelance journalist who has bipolar disorder. We travel with her through her phases and see them all from within - and t
Peter Dixon
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was a good read, on a subject often skirted around. I think it needs to be stated more clearly that the book is about mental illness, so that any potential readers who are suffering or are in a fragile state know to approach it with caution. I haven't read Gavin's previous novel, so I didn't know what to expect and I picked this up expecting some sort of quirky fantasy. When it became evident that it wasn't and when the story started to echo uncomfortable experiences of my own, I very nearl ...more
R.A. Raab
Jun 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
The Mirror World of Melody Black is the second book by Gavin Extence, who wrote The Universe Versus Alex Woods, one of my favorite books of 2013. So imagine my disappointment when I read this book and realized it was the biggest of sophomore slumps: a protagonist who is spiralling into insanity chapter by chapter. Problem is that she’s bland, boring, and pretty annoying if the truth be told, so you keep wishing somebody would just lock her away in a padded room so she could just shut up already. ...more
Helena Wildsmith
I absolutely loved Alex Woods and didn't quite expect this book to top it - but sadly it didn't even come close to that. I thought the title was fascinating and was disappointed to see that it was totally unrelated to the book. Melody Black is a character we meet right towards the end who holds little relevance to the story and the mirror world is something only briefly mentioned in passing. I was still drawn into the story and Abby's downfall but the whole book just didn't really seem to go any ...more
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Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, Lincolnshire. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.

Gavin is currently working on his second novel.
“It was a uniquely human problem, something no other animal had to put up with, this ability to suffer in multiple tenses – simultaneously to mourn the past, despair of the present and fear the future.” 6 likes
“People talk about dark moods, black moods, all the time. But depression isn’t a dark mood. It’s an ash-grey mood, or possibly some type of beige. There” 4 likes
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